Now that the Mountain West Conference's partnership with ESPN is dead, are you wondering where to find televised games involving BYU and Utah this fall and beyond?

Just look to The MountainWest Sports Network.

That's the name of the new, super regional collegiate sports television network that the Mountain West Conference and College Sports Television jointly announced Tuesday.

The MWC and CSTV hailed the creation of the MountainWest Sports Network (or "the mtn.") as a major breakthrough. It's the first super regional sports network dedicated solely to an NCAA conference and, as the name suggests, the network is devoted exclusively to coverage of MWC athletics, with year-round, 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week coverage of all 19 sports sponsored by the MWC.

"It's an historic moment," said MWC commissioner Craig Thompson. "It's

remarkable that we are the only conference in the nation to have its own super regional network, thanks to CSTV."

The network is set to launch Sept. 2. Ironically, the first local teams scheduled to appear on the network that day are Utah State and Weber State, which each take on MWC foes.

BYU and Utah will make their respective debuts on the MountainWest Sports Network one week later, on Sept. 9, when the Cougars host Tulsa (2 p.m.) and the Utes entertain Northern Arizona (6 p.m.).

For the 2006-07 sports year, the network plans to carry 36 MWC football games, 150 basketball games and more than 200 men's and women's Olympic sports events, including conference championships.

"We're cutting new ground," said Chris Bevilacqua, president of CSTV Regional Networks. "It's something to be proud of. We're talking about nine institutions, eight markets, seven states and a very wide footprint."

Bonus football games will be shown in local markets, meaning that the entire MWC football games will be broadcast. CSTV's national football schedule, which will include a number of prominent MWC contests, will be announced today.

League and CSTV officials underscored that the network is designed to be fan-friendly.

"It's an opportunity to play at times that our fans want us to play, when it's convenient for our fans," Thompson said.

Still, there are some unanswered questions regarding how fans will access the MountainWest Sports Network. While the network is likely to be made available to viewers, will they have to pay their cable and satellite operators additional fees to receive it?

Network officials are continuing the process of negotiating with the various cable and satellite operators in the MWC markets.

"It's our goal to have an agreement before the season with all cable distributors in every (MWC) market," Bevilacqua said.


E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com